PARIS: A lawmaker from the ruling party of French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused of racism after she led a walkout at the country’s national assembly in protest at the presence of a Muslim student union representative wearing a headscarf.
In a controversial move earlier this week, lawmakers from far-right and republican parties left the meeting when Maryam Pougetoux, the spokesperson of the National Union of Students in France (UNEF), attended the parliament while wearing a Muslim head covering.
The lawmaker from Macron’s La Republique En March party, Anne-Christine Lang, who led the walkout said that she viewed the hijab as a symbol of submission.
“I cannot accept that in the center of the National Assembly, the beating heart of democracy… that we accept that a person appears in a hijab before a parliamentary inquiry committee,” said in a video she later posted on Twitter.
“As an MP and a feminist, who values republican principles, secular principles and women’s rights,” she wrote in a separate tweet.
“I cannot accept that someone comes to participate in our work at the National Assembly wearing a hijab, which remains for me, a symbol of submission.”
France bans wearing items of clothing or symbols, which indicate an adherence to any religion, for MPs and staff in the parliament building.
Melanie Luce, the president of UNEF, however, described the move as racism. “Under the pretext of feminism, racist remarks are made,” she said.
This is while another member of the ruling party Sandrine Morch, who chaired the session, described the move as “unnecessary.”
She said that there was no rule preventing people from attending the meeting in religious covering.
The move was also decried by a number of people on social media users.